(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
Contract: 5 years, $35 million
Signed by: New Jersey Nets
Salary this season: $7 million
2013 Slash Line: 4.7/1.8/0.4 in 25 games
The Nets are clearing cap space for a free-agent class that includes James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but James is the unmistakable target. So much so, the Nets have an internal business plan for the move into the new Brooklyn arena that includes a modest section on his eventual recruitment, estimates of his marketing worth and the salary-cap space that needs to be cleared for his signing.
This is the kind of advanced planning every team does, but there’s a credibility to the Nets’ pursuit that comes out of Jay-Z’s relationship.
—Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports, February 25th, 2008
That excerpt was taken from a column written more than 28 months before LeBron James could even think about becoming a free agent in the summer of 2010. The impending departure of the King was a NBA storyline for over two years in a media storm like few before it. Everyone knew that come July 1st, the course of league history would be changed depending on where the then 26 year-old would sign. Like Woj wrote, every team has advanced planning on their minds when designing the future of the franchise. Many of them had their eye on the now-three-time MVP in 2008, but only a few had the financial and logical wherewithal to actually involve themselves in the discussion.
For the Nets and their downtrodden fans wallowing within a second city standing, the thought of signing a premier free agent was a laughable dream for much of the franchise’s history. Even as the team had been to the Finals just as many times in the last 35 years as their Manhattan dwelling sister squad, the Nets’ ability to sign superstars was always dimmed by it’s decrepit arena mired in the swamps of New Jersey, with a fair weather fan base and questionable support from the community. Even as the team acquired players like All-NBA players like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Dikembe Mutumbo to suit up for them, stars rarely came to the Jerz on their own free will. Kind of like real life.
That all changed when former owner Bruce Ratner put into motion a plan to move the Nets to Brooklyn and transitioned stewardship of the team to new owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokorhov. Now with one of the richest men in the world backing their payroll and an upcoming move into a sparkling new arena in a much more populous, centrally located and “cool” location in Brooklyn, the Nets and their fans could dare to hope.… Read more...